There’s an App for That

A chef’s sharpest tool may be digital

Whatever your kitchen woes, an app can help lessen the stress. Streamlining ordering, organizing kitchen operations, or a source for sustainable seafood and specialty produce are just a handful of choices. Here are some worth looking into:

FOODAGER

Restaurant management software that links to more than 50 POS systems; integrates with accounting software; and organizes order, inventory and pricing data.

Why Chefs Love It: Foodager can lower food costs by consolidating back-of-house data – from recipes and inventory counts to purchasing and financials – and sharing them with staff. “The platform easily saves me 15-20 hours per month. When this is multiplied across stores and staff, this number is even higher,” says Chef Dale Watkins of Ivan Ramen in New York.”

CONVERT UNITS

A kitchen calculator that computes 19 different unit conversions, including weight to volume and temperatures.

Why Chefs Love It: it’s free, intuitive and precise, calculating conversions to several decimal places. “I’m always having to convert grams to ounces, ounces to cups, cups to quarts” says Erin Smith, chef/owner of Feges BBQ in Houston, who also uses the app for desserts. “It’s a lot to compute in the moment, and the app helps me make accurate and precise conversions.”

MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM SEAFOOD WATCH

A guide that recommends ocean-friendly seafood via a traffic light (red, yellow, green) system, searches for sushi by Japanese and common market names, and provides in-depth conservation notes.

Why Chefs Love It: Chef Stephen Phelps of Indigenous Seafood in Sarasota, Florida, uses the app to swap questionably - caught fish for sustainable substitutes, like king mackerel, mullet and barramundi. “I use it when I’m unsure of the status of a fishery before purchasing,” says Phelps.” Waiters also use the app to inform guests about the benefits of lesser-known fish.

BEEFLEXIBLE

The California Beef Council’s portable beef bible maps out different cuts, offers preparation tips and suggests the most economical times to order particular offerings.

Why Chefs Love It: When Executive Chef Michael Goularte opens Stuart’s Steakhouse in Modesto, California, this year, he’ll ask his sous chefs and servers to download the app. “I’ll use it to not only quiz our cooks, but educate our servers on why we cook the cuts the way we do, which they can then pass on to our customers.”

HOMEBASE

Workforce management software that logs attendance information, tracks hours, and allows employees to trade shifts.

Why Chefs Love It: “We have been able to move from texting to in-app messaging,” says Sandra Schilling Holl of Floriole’s Cafe & Bakery in Chicago. “It gives employees a way to separate their work life from their private lives. Staff can rate their shift and provide immediate feedback when there are problems at work, plus give a shout-out to another staff member for a job well done. These shout-outs are shared with everyone, and promote an environment of positivity.”

SPECIALTY PRODUCE

An encyclopedia detailing 2,500 types of produce and 15,000 recipes.

Why Chefs Love It: although Chef Gio Osso of Scottsdale’s Virtu Honest Craft doesn’t order from Specialty Produce, he loves how the app describes what’s in season and how long it will stay fresh. “The app does a great job of locating ingredients at certain farmers' markets, and I inform my produce company of any findings I don’t see on their list,” says Osso. Discovering the availability of agretti and spigarello has allowed Osso to incorporate them onto his menu.